This upside down cake recipe features pears as the base for a fun fall dessert! The cake layer is perfectly sturdy and dense to hold up to the caramel / pear layer, but is still tender and moist. The caramel absorbs into the cake to make for an amazingly delicious dessert!
Not to be confused with The Upside Down – there’s absolutely nothing scary about this cake. Side note: no, I haven’t watched Stranger Things, but I know a surprising amount about it just because of the sheer amount of spoilers that have been thrown my way.
Okay, got a bit off topic there…
As suggested by an amazing follower on Instagram, we’ve got a pear-y twist on your classic pineapple upside down cake!
I’ll be totally honest, I’m not a huge pear fan when it’s raw. But when you bake it and cake it, it’s seriously chef’s kiss perfection!
But I mean, who doesn’t love fruits & veggies more when they’re in dessert form??
This cake is perfectly dense and sturdy (enough to hold up to the caramel sauce and pear bottom – which ultimately becomes the top of the cake), but it’s still super fluffy and light. The pear and caramel top make for an extra moist and soft cake after they have a chance to sit for a bit and absorb into the cake!
One of my favorite things abut this cake is also the fact that it almost always looks amazing despite my terrible arranging skills when it comes to the pear base. You can see later on in the post that it really doesn’t look pretty when I’m layering the pears…. but after it was flipped, it looked amazing in my humble and unbiased opinion.
what is upside down cake?
In case you haven’t been exposed to the amazing world of upside down cake, let me give you a quick little summary!
Upside down cakes are essentially made by combining butter and brown sugar in the bottom of a cake pan to create a caramel-like base, and then arranging sliced fruits and / or nuts overtop. It’s all topped off with a thick cake batter and baked. The cake is then flipped (that’s where the name “upside down” cake comes from!) so the bottom becomes the top!
Today we’re making upside down cake with pears as the base, but one of the most popular versions of this cake is probably pineapple upside down cake!
pear upside down cake ingredients:
• brown sugar
• baking power + baking soda: would it be an Eats Delightful cake without a combination?? Using both baking powder and soda help keep the cake light and fluffy
• cinnamon: optional, but I love the flavor!
• oil: helps keep the cake moist!
• sour cream: adds richness and ALSO keeps the cake dense but moist! The cake batter needs to be on the denser side of things to hold up to the pear and caramel layer, but nobody wants a brick for a cake. Sour cream is rich enough to give us that density but without sacrificing moisture!
How to make pear upside down cake:
Make the pear layer:
1. Combine butter and brown sugar in the bottom of your pan. Spread into an even layer.
2. Arrange pear slices over the butter / sugar mix. Set aside to make the cake batter.
Make the cake batter:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar.
3. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, followed by sour cream and vanilla.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. The batter will be thick!
5. Spoon the cake batter over the pear layer. Smoothen the top using a spoon or spatula. Try to avoid spreading the batter around too much or it can displace the pears.
6. Bake until golden brown and baked through!
7. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan, then flip upside down onto your serving plate!
8. Serve warm or at room temperature! (optional) Top with some chopped pecans for added crunch.
pear upside down cake storage:
This cake is best enjoyed the day it’s made because the caramel and pear layer will soften the cake over time. Buuuut you can store this cake for up to 3 days at room temperature or around 5 days in the fridge if needed. Cover tightly with plastic wrap to keep it fresh.
This cake is best served at room temperature or warm. So if you stored the cake in the fridge, let it come to room temperature before enjoying!
I’ve never had the best luck with freezing upside down cakes, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
When should you flip an upside down cake?
Upside down cakes should be flipped around 10 to 15 minutes after they come out of the oven. No sooner than 10 minutes and no longer than 15.
That’s the sweet zone where the caramel / pear base will have had a chance to settle and firm up slightly, but it’s still soft enough to release from the pan.
How do you keep upside down cake from sticking to the pan?
The caramel base for this recipe uses slightly more butter than most conventional upside down cakes – so that alone will help prevent sticking.
Aside from that, the most important tip to keep in mind is to make sure you’re flipping the cake at the right time. Like I mentioned above, if you wait too long to turn the cake out of the baking pan, the caramel can start to harden and stick.
Should you use parchment paper for upside down cake?
You shouldn’t need to. I’ve found parchment paper can just soak up grease and make it difficult to prep the caramel / pear base, so I really don’t like using it for upside down cakes.
Check out these other recipes!
Pear Upside Down Cake Recipe
For the caramel pear layer:
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 2 to 3 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
For the cake layer:
- 1 & 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60mL) vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar, light or dark
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (180g) full-fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- chopped pecans (optional for topping)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Make the caramel / pear layer: Combine melted butter and brown sugar in the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan or pie plate. Whichever baking pan you use needs to have sides that are at least 2 inches tall! Mix to coat the brown sugar in the butter and spread into an even layer.
- Arrange the pear slices evenly on top of the butter / brown sugar mixture, overlapping the slices slightly to cover any gaps. You may need 2 or 3 pears (depending on the size) to get enough slices to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside to prep the cake batter.
- Make the cake batter: In a medium sized bowl, add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a whisk by hand, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until well combined. A few small clumps of butter are fine!
- Add eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add in sour cream and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix together until just combined and you no longer see any dry streaks of flour. Take care not to over mix! The batter will be thick and a bit lumpy.
- Spoon the cake batter evenly over the pear layer and gently spread out to fill any gaps. Try to avoid spreading the batter around too much because it can move the pears out of place.
- Bake the cake in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean of any batter. If you notice the cake browning on top too quickly, loosely tent the cake with aluminum foil to allow the cake to continue cooking through without burning on top.
- Cool the cake for 10 to 15 minutes in your pan, then carefully flip the cake onto a serving plate with a small lip (to catch any caramel drips). The cake needs to be flipped while it's still hot or the caramel will harden and make it difficult to get out of the pan!
- Allow the cake to cool enough to handle before serving. (Optional) Sprinkle some chopped pecans over top for added crunch! Serve warm or at room temperature.